Shopping for Style
By Linda Lippner
I’ve been in Moscow for a number of years now and I still have a hard time going into a store to shop for clothes. In fact, the anxiety attack that accompanies a tentative visit to a stylish and even not so stylish store goes way back to my earliest months in Moscow when it seemed that every store had its black clad “body guard” out front with his surveillance radio earphone and wide enough shoulders to block the entrance to anyone, if necessary. Now, not that I am anything but a harmless meddle aged lady hoping for a “just looking” shopping experience, but I guess you never know; an oligarch’s wife may arrive in a fl ash and the store would have to be cleared immediately and those bodyguards could have done the job!
That was then and this is now, and I am determined to get over my shopping anxiety, throw out those sensible clothing catalogues that I am addicted to and go mainstream shopping. And I feel like a sleeping beauty who has been awakened by a kiss into the New World of Moscow fashion shopping! Yes, there are more and more stylish stores popping up on all the fashionable streets, but there are also malls in the middle of town, crammed with stores of every description, cheek by jowl to each other and not a bodyguard in sight. And in a mall, you can have a lunch, shop for a book or household item, and then slip into a fashionable store, look around, and just maybe, see a few things to try on. And even the sales help are rather friendly. They have been trained to smile and behave in my favorite mode of behavior; keeping their distance while I shop. No hovering like they used to, suspiciously watching in case I wanted to steal something, like a size 2 dress that only my cat could fi t into, but I guess they still might have thought I could sneak off with it.
My fi rst column for this magazine was all about the Moscow fashion scene as seen through the eyes of a Western woman who was stunned by the lengths a Moscow woman would go to, especially in the summer, to show off her fashionista sense of style. I think I am noticing an ever so slight merging of Western fashion taste with Moscow female fashion chutzpah. Do I detect a slightly longer skirt, and a slightly lower high heel? And do I notice a bit more cover-up clothing in the summer months? I have a friend in the fashion biz in Moscow – a Western lady who is working in her stores, to combine style, fashion sensitivity, and attractive fashion choices for all body types. Most of her clients are Russian and she enjoys the clientele because they DO have a sense of style; the essence of knowing who you are and what works for you. She welcomes my tentative fi rst steps into the fashion world of Moscow. I think she can tell that my fashion sense is closer to disaster sense, and perhaps now, after all these years, she can persuade me to pull out those rubles for a little transformational work on my ‘image’ in Moscow!